Blog #164~Why Use a Visual Schedule?
We all hate getting lost, it can be aggravating and nervewracking. That’s why we use maps to help navigate our way.
The same is true for a child with special needs who lacks verbal and cognitive skills. Providing a visual schedule allows your child to see what is going to happen in their day. My son, Nick is 22 years old and has Down syndrome and autism. Visual schedules provide many benefits for him to travel smoothly, through his daily routine.
Benefits of Using a Visual Schedule:
*Provides structure and predictability by showing a child what is coming up next. This greatly reduces anxiety and builds confidence.
*Helps with transitions from one activity to the next.
*Picture form is easier to understand than verbal instructions. Children with autism often comprehend pictures and/or written directions easier than verbal cues alone.
*Helps to teach sequence of events especially when using words, “first”, “next”, and “last”.
*Expedites learning routines and fosters independence in self-help/hygiene skills and household/school jobs.
*Helps with time management and literacy development by reading through pictures and words associated with them.
*Improves conversation skills by giving a visual framework of what they did and what was their favorite part of the end of the day.
*Assists teachers and caregivers with routine changes, when things get out of sync. It also helps to introduce a new and/or different activity.
Visual schedules come in all shapes and forms and many are available in Google images. You can adjust the length and type of images, (PECS-Picture Exchange System, photos, written words, iPad/ smart phone apps) to what your child will most easily understand.
It’s best to start with a small routine and adapt the schedules based on your child’s needs and abilities. Try pairing a non-preferred activity (first) followed by a preferred choice (next). Your child’s speech therapist can be of great help in creating picture sequences that would fit their needs.
Going through a visual schedule with your child, helps them understand what is going to happen, and what behavior you expect.
Here is one we use when going to the mall. Note the visual below has going to the stores (first) and Taco Bell (next) as the preferred activity.
Sequence for going to church:
Full Day Schedule: ( Note, this could be broken up in separate pieces if this would be to overwhelming).
Using visual schedules have been shown to be helpful for children and adults with special needs by giving them more control on what goes on in their daily lives. It provides the road map to navigate for a smooth ride through their daily routines. That’s what is in my noggin this week.
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